Anda di halaman 1dari 51

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader

immerses the learner in Old Norse and Icelandic sagas, eddas, and myths
The Old Norse Reader includes:

Wide Selection of Old Norse and Icelandic Readings

Explanatory Notes and Maps of the Viking World

Scandinavian Mythology, the Norse Gods and Goddesses, life in the Viking
Age, descriptions of the dwarves gold and the ring that inspired Tolkiens
Lord of the Rings and Wagners Ring Cycle

Workbook Design for Rapid Interactive Learning

A Complete Saga with Introduction and Cultural Background

Viking Age and Medieval Runes

Mythic and Heroic Poetry: Eddic and Skaldic

The Doom of the Gods

Hrafnkels Saga, The Priest of the God Frey

The Tale of Audun From the West Fjords and the Bear

Comprehensive Old Norse Reference Grammar

Extensive Vocabulary Marked for Word Frequency

Visit our website for more information


and the free download Answer Key to Viking Language 1
www.vikingnorse.com
www.vikinglanguage.com

THE VIKING LANGUAGE SERIES


A full course in Old Norse, runes, Icelandic sagas, and Vikings
Viking Language 1: Learn Old Norse, Runes, and Icelandic
Sagas. (the first book in The Viking Language Series) is a new
introduction to Old Norse, Icelandic, and runes. The beginner
has everything in one book: graded lessons, vocabulary,
grammar, exercises, pronunciation, culture sections, and maps.
The book follows an innovative method that speeds learning.
The grammar of Modern Icelandic has changed little from Old
Norse, and the learner is well on the way to mastering Modern
Icelandic.

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader (the second


book in The Viking Language Series) immerses the learner in
Old Norse, Icelandic, and runes. It teaches how to read sagas,
poems of the Scandinavian gods and heroes. The Old Norse
Reader includes a large vocabulary, a reference grammar, and
runic inscriptions.
TWO MP3 DOWNLOAD AUDIO ALBUMS
TEACH PRONUNCIATION of reading passages
and runic inscriptions in Viking Language 1.

Viking Language 1 Audio Lessons 1-8: Pronounce Old Norse, Runes,


and Icelandic Sagas.
Viking Language 2 Audio Lessons 9-15: Pronounce Old Norse, Runes,
and Icelandic Sagas.

www.vikingnorse.com

www.vikinglanguage.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Jesse Byock is Distinguished Professor of Old Norse Studies in the UCLA Scandinavian Section
and at UCLAs Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University
and teaches Old Norse, Icelandic sagas, and Viking Archaeology. Prof. Byock directs the Mosfell
Archaeological Project (MAP) in Iceland, excavating a Viking Age longhouse, harbor, and valley.
He is professor at the University of Iceland (Hskli slands) affiliated with the Department of
History and the Program in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies.

BOOKS BY JESSE BYOCK


STUDIES:
Viking Age Iceland. Penguin Books
LIslande des Vikings. Flammarion, Editions Aubier
La Stirpe Di Odino: La Civilt Vichinga in Islandia. Oscar Mondadori
. Corpus Books
Feud in the Icelandic Saga. University of California Press

;6^I <,6262< A-0>212=W]D^I <U3:/6. Tokai University Press


Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas, and Power. University of California Press
Island sagatiden: Samfund, magt og fejde. C.A. Reitzel

12=W]D^ ;6. Tokai University Press


Viking Archaeology in Iceland: The Mosfell Archaeological Project. Edited by Davide
Zori and Jesse Byock. Brepols Publishers

TRANSLATIONS FROM OLD NORSE:


Grettirs Saga. Oxford University Press
The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology. Penguin Books.
The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. Penguin Books
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki. Penguin Books
Sagas and Myths of the Northmen. Penguin Books (a short introductory book)

VIKING LANGUAGE 2
THE OLD NORSE READER
JESSE L. BYOCK

Jules William Press

www.vikingnorse.com
www.vikinglanguage.com

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


Jules William Press
15450 De Pauw St.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
www.vikingnorse.com
Copyright 2015, Jesse L. Byock
Maps copyright 2015, Jesse L. Byock
All rights reserved. No part of this copyrighted book may be reproduced, transmitted, or used
in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including internet,
photocopying, recording, taping, pdf, or any information storage and retrieval systems without
written permission from Jesse L. Byock.
Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Byock, Jesse L., 1945Viking language 2 : The Old Norse reader / Jesse Byock. -1st ed.
v. cm. - (Viking language series)
Contents: v. 1. Viking language 1 : Learn Old Norse, runes, and Icelandic sagas. v. 2. Viking
language 2 : The Old Norse reader.
Summary: Old Norse Icelandic language introductory textbook with readings from sagas,
runes, and the Viking Age in Scandinavia.
Includes bibliographical references, vocabulary, appendices, and students guide.
ISBN-13: 978-1481175265 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 1481175262 (pbk. )
1. Old Norse language-Grammar. 2. Old Norse language-Readers. 3. Vikings-Language.
5. Sagas-Icelandic. 6. Runes-Scandinavian. I. Title.
PD2235.B9 2012/v.2
439/.6/v.2-dc

2012921210 (LCN)

Printed in Calibri
Cover Picture Permission: Cf24063_C55000_100_VSH: Vikingskipshuset, det akademiske
dyrehodet fra Oseberg Kulturhistorisk museum, Universitetet I Oslo / Ove Holst

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader

Figure 1. A Toast To Those Learning Old Norse

CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
OLD NORSE/ICELANDIC ALPHABET AND SPELLING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
THE MOST FREQUENT WORDS IN THE SAGAS: A LEARNING STRATEGY FOR OLD NORSE . . . . . . .

14
18
20
21

CHAPTER 1
READINGS FROM THE FAMILY AND KINGS SAGAS
1.1 LONDON BRIDGE PULLED DOWN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
London Bridge from The Saga of St. Olaf (lfs saga helga, Heimskringla)
lfs saga helga (Chs 12-13) from Heimskringla
1.2 CHIEFTAINS AND FAMILIES FROM NJALS SAGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Icelandic Chieftains: The Opening Chapter of Njals Saga
Brennu-Njls saga (Ch 1)
Vikings Attack Njals Sons Off the Coast of Scotland
Njls saga (Ch 84)
1.3 GIFT-GIVING IN THE SAGAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4 A GIFT IN NJLS SAGA, GUNNARS FAITHFUL HOUND: FOUR SAMPLE TRANSLATIONS . . . .
Njls saga (Ch 70)

26

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


Four Translations of the Faithful Hound
1.5 King Harald Fairhair (Haralds saga ins hrfagra) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Boy Harald Inherits a Kingdom
Haralds saga ins hrfagra (Ch 1)
King Harald and the Proud Maiden
Haralds saga ins hrfagra (Ch 3)
Harald Sets His New Kingdom In Order
Haralds saga ins hrfagra (Ch 6)
Harald Claims His Prize
Haralds saga ins hrfagra (Ch 20)
Harald Receives the Name Fairhair
Haralds saga ins hrfagra (Ch 23)
1.6 EGILS BONES SAGA AND ARCHAEOLOGY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Skull and Bones Under the Place of the Altar (Egils Saga Ch 86)

3
36

41

CHAPTER 2
CREATION OF THE WORLD:
YMIR, YGGDRASIL, AND ASGARD
Mythological Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Eddic Poems Cited in The Prose Edda
2.1 CREATION: YMIR, AUDHUMLA, AND ODIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ymir (the Primordial Giant), Auhumla (the Fertile Cow), and the Birth of
inn and His two Brothers Vili and V (Gylfaginning 6)
Bergelmir and the Second Race of Frost Giants (Gylfaginning 7)
The World Created from Ymirs Body (Gylfaginning 8)
Askr and Embla, The First Humans (Gylfaginning 9)
2.2 The Norse Cosmos and the World Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Ash Yggdrasil, the Norns, and the Three Wells (Gylfaginning 15)
More About The Tree and its Creatures (Gylfaginning 16)
The Norns Heal the Tree (Gylfaginning 16)
2.3 LOKI AND SVADILFARI THE WALLS OF ASGARD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Loki ok Svailfari (Gylfaginning 42)

CHAPTER 3
RAGNAROK: THE BATTLE AT THE WORLDS END

46
47

50

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


3.1 The Doom of the Gods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ragnarkr (Gylfaginning 51)

58

CHAPTER 4
GODS AND GODDESSES
4.1 The sir and the Vanir . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
War Among the Gods (Ynglinga saga Ch 4)
Peace Between the sir and the Vanir The Mead of Poetry (Skldskaparml 1)
Kvasir and the Mead of Poetry (Skldskaparml 2)
4.2 ODIN THE ALFATHER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Odin (Gylfaginning 3)
Odins Many Names (Gylfaginning 20)
Odin Hanged on the Tree (Hvaml, The Sayings of the High One)
Hvaml 138-139
Odin and Magic (Ynglinga saga 7)
Odin and Asgard (Gylfaginning 9)
4.3 THOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thor (Gylfaginning 21)
Thors Possessions and Weapons (Gylfaginning 21)
4.4 TYR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tr, The One-handed (Gylfaginning 25)
4.5 GODDESSES AND SUPERNATURAL WOMEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.6 FRIGG AND THE GODDESSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Frigg Knows the Fates of Men (Gylfaginning 20)
The Goddesses (Gylfaginning 35)
4.7 FEMALE DIVINITIES AND VALKYRIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hel Thrown into Niflheim (Gylfaginning 34)
Valkyries (Gylfaginning 36)
4.8 BALDR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Baldr the Beautiful (Gylfaginning 22)
The Death of Baldr (Gylfaginning 49)
Baldrs Funeral Pyre Gods, Giants, and the Ring Draupnir (Gylfaginning 49)
Hermods Ride to Hel (Gylfaginning 49)
4.9 THE VANIR NJORD, FREY, AND FREYJA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Marriage of Njrr and Skai (Gylfaginning 23)
Freyr and Freyja (Gylfaginning 24)

67

69

74

75
76
76

78

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4.10 LOKI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Loki the Troublemaker (Gylfaginning 33)
Lokis Monstrous Children (Gylfaginning 34)

5
86

CHAPTER 5
THOR AND THE GIANT UTGARDA-LOKI
Thors Travels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.1 THOR MEETS SKRYMIR IN THE FOREST (GYLFAGINNING 45) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2 THOR REACHES THE GIANTS STRONGHOLD (GYLFAGINNING 46) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3 UTGARDA-LOKI REVEALS THE TRUTH (GYLFAGINNING 47) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

88
89
92
94

CHAPTER 6
OTTERS RANSOM: THE DWARVES GOLD AND THE RING
6.1 Why Is Gold Called Otters Ransom? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Skldskaparml (Ch 46)
6.2 SIGURD THE VOLSUNG, THE DRAGON FAFNIR, AND THE RING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

97
101

CHAPTER 7
SETTLING THE NORTH ATLANTIC: ICELAND
West into the North Atlantic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1 Sailing Routes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Landnmabk (Sturlubk 2)
Landnmabk (Hauksbk 2)
7.2 DIRECTIONS AND TIME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Compass Directions
Relative Directions
Telling Time (Daymarks)
7.3 EXPLORATION WEST OVER THE ATLANTIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Landnmabk (Sturlubk 3)
Landnmabk (Sturlubk 4)
Landnmabk (Sturlubk 5)
7.4 ICELAND SETTLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Settlers from Norway (slendingabk Ch 1)

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106

107

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


Taxing Those Who Sail to Iceland (slendingabk Ch 1)
Settlers Remembered (slendingabk Ch 2)
Establishing Laws and the Althing, The Book of the Icelanders
slendingabk (Ch 2)
7.5 THE CONVERSION OF ICELAND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
King Olaf Tryggvason sends a Missionary from The Book of the Icelanders
slendingabk (Ch 7)
Lawspeaker Thorgeir Lays Under the Cloak and Compromise (slendingabk
slendingabk (Ch 7)

112

CHAPTER 8
GREENLAND AND VINLAND
8.1 GREENLAND DISCOVERED AND SETTLED (THE SAGA OF THE GREENLANDERS) . . . . . . . . . .
Grnlendinga saga (Ch 1)
8.2 GREENLAND AND VINLAND DISCOVERED AND SETTLED (THE BOOK OF THE ICELANDERS) . .
slendingabk (Ch 6)
Leif Eiriksson Leaves King Olaf and Discovers Vinland (The Saga of Eirik the Red)
Eirks saga raua (Ch 5)
8.3 SEAFARING IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.4 GREENLANDERS SAIL TO VINLAND (THE SAGA OF EIRIK THE RED) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Eirks saga raua (Ch 8)
Karlsefni in Vinland (Eirks saga raua Ch 8)
8.5 THE GREENLAND SEERESS (THE SAGA OF EIRIK THE RED) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Eirks saga raua (Ch 4)

117
118

119
120

123

CHAPTER 9
THE TALE OF AUDUN FROM THE WEST FJORDS,
AUUNAR TTR VESTFIRZKA
A Tale (ttr) from the West Fjords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.1 AUUNAR TTR VESTFIRZKA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

CHAPTER 10
HRAFNKELS SAGA,
HRAFNKELS SAGA FREYSGOA

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


A Saga of Feud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12.1 HRAFNKELS SAGA FREYSGOA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

7
138
140

CHAPTER 11
RUNES IN VIKING AND MEDIEVAL TIMES
The Younger Futhark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Additional Variants and Dotted Runes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Runic Spelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.1 THE HRNING RUNESTONE FROM JUTLAND IN DENMARK, THE GRATITUDE OF A FREED MAN
11.1-A. Translate the Hrning Runes
11.2 TWO RUNESTONES FROM THE PARISH OF KLEPP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Tu runestone, The First Stone
11.2-A. Translate the Tu Runes
The Klepp 1 Runestone
11.2-B. Translate the Klepp 1 Runes
Connections Between the Tu and the Klepp 1 Stones
11.3 RUNES IN THE FAMILY SAGAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Runes in Icelands East Fjords (The Tale of Thorstein Ox-Foot)
orsteins ttr uxafts (Flateyjarbk Ch 202, 203)
11.4 RUNES IN EGILS SAGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Egil Skallagrimsson Curses King Eirik Bloodaxe with Runes on a Nstng
Egils saga Skallagrmssonar (Ch 57)
11.5 RUNES IN THE LEGENDARY SAGAS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer learns Runes from a Valkyrie (The Saga of the
Brynhild Tells Her Tale and Teaches Runes, Vlsunga saga (Ch 21)
11.6 MEDIEVAL RUNES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.7 MEDIEVAL RUNES FROM BERGEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.8 MEDIEVAL RUNES IN COMMERCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1. Bryggen Runes in Commerce Runic Indentity Tags
11.8-1AC. Rune Sticks
11.9 BRYGGEN LOVE RUNES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.9-2AB. Runes Stick Inscription
11.10 RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS IN LATIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.10-1A. AVE MARIA CARVED IN RUNES ON A WOODEN PEG FROM TNSBERG.
11.10-1B. A LINE FROM VIRGILS AENEID
11.11 KEY TO THE RUNE EXERCISES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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167
167
168
169

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174

175

178
179
180

181
182

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader

CHAPTER 12
EDDIC POETRY
A Short Introduction to Old Norse Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12.1 EDDIC VERSE AND ITS SOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Poetic Edda (The Codex Regius)
Additional Eddic Verse and The Two Eddas
12.2 EDDIC TITLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12.3 EDDIC TRADITION LONG LINES AND HALF LINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stanza Presentation: Two Methods of Printing Old Norse/Icelandic Verse
Vlusp (The Sybils Prophecy) Stanzas 1-13

186
190

187
191

CHAPTER 13
EDDIC METERS
JESSE BYOCK AND RUSSELL POOLE
Eddic Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alliteration
A Note of Caution
13.1 THE FOUR PRINCIPAL EDDIC METERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fornyrislag (Old Lore or Epic Meter)
Ljahttr (Chant Meter)
Mlahttr (Speech Meter)
Galdralag (Magic Meter)
13.2 EDDIC EXAMPLES FROM MYTHIC POEMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Vlusp: Stanza 19.-20
Thor Episode from Lokasenna (Stanzas: 57-63)

198

199

203

CHAPTER 14
THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA):
A COMPLETE EDDIC POEM AND POETIC DEVICES
14.1 POETIC DEVICES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kennings and Heiti, A First Look

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Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader


Alliteration
Again Some Caution
Syllable Stress: Prominent and Subordinate
Intermediate Syllable Stress.
14.2 POETIC GRAMMAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Definite Article
Periphrastic (Circumlocutory) Preterites
Expletive um Preceding Verbs
Idiomatic Uses of the Genitive Case
Word Order
Enclitic (Attached) Pronouns
First Person Plural Before the Pronoun
Negative Particles -a and -gi
14.3 RYMSKVIA (THE LAY OF THRYM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Mythological Background
rymskvia

210

213

CHAPTER 15
RUNES AND EDDIC METER FROM SWEDEN
Eddic Verse in the Younger Futhark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
15.1 TWO BLLSTA RUNESTONES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Runic Poem on the Second Bllsta Runestone
15.2 THE CARVER AND THE CARVING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
15.3 A SUGGESTED TRANSLATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

225
226
228
230

CHAPTER 16
SKALDIC POETRY
16.1 SKALDIC COMPOSITION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16.2 HEITI AND KENNINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16.3 KENNINGS IN HTTATAL: A SERIES OF EXAMPLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16.4 THREE SKALDIC FRAGMENTS ABOUT THOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Skaldic Fragment 1 by rbjrn dsarskld

231
232
234
236

10

Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader

Skaldic Fragment 2 by Steinunn Refsdttir


Skaldic Fragment 3 by Steinunn Refsdttir
16.5 CLASSIFICATION: THE FIVE SIEVERS TYPES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16.6 HSDRPA (HOUSEPOEM), A PICTURE POEM OF PRAISE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Hsdrpa Stanzas Rearranged in Prose Order

238
239

CHAPTER 17
THE KARLEVI RUNESTONE:
A SKALDIC POEM CARVED IN RUNES
17.1 THE KARLEVI STONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Part A of the Karlevi Stone: Runic Verse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Part A. The Runes
Part B of the Karlevi Runestone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Part B. The Runes
Key for the Runes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

244
245
247
248

APPENDIX AND VOCABULARY


Appendix 1: Old Norse Reference Grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Vocabulary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

249
274

MAPS, FIGURES AND DIAGRAMS


FRONT PAGES
Fig. 1 A toast to Those Learning Old Norse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Map 1 The World of the Vikings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2
16

CHAPTER 1 READINGS FROM THE FAMILY AND KINGS SAGAS


1.1 London Bridge is Falling Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 Gyda Answers Haralds Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.3 Gyda Watches the Arrival of King Haralds Messenger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

26
37
39

VIKINGLANGUAGE2:THEOLDNORSEREADER

21

THEMOSTFREQUENTWORDSINTHESAGAS
ALEARNINGSTRATEGYFOROLDNORSE

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WordfrequencyisthekeytolearningOldNorse,andTheVikingLanguageSeriesisdesigned
withawordfrequencystrategy,concentratingonthe246mostcommonwordsinthesagas.
Inthevocabularies,thesewordsaremarkedwiththesymbol.
Thetotalvocabularyofthesagasissurprisinglysmall.1Excludingnames,thereareonly
12,400differentwordsinthecorpusofthefamilysagasoutofatotalwordcountofalmost
750,000.Ofthese12,400differentwords,the70mostfrequentcompose60%ofthetotal
wordcount.ThegreatestbenefittousingawordfrequencystrategyinOldNorsematerialis
foundbylearningthe246mostfrequentwordsdividedintopartsofspeechingroupsof50
each. This way the learner can concentrate on the 50 most frequent nouns, verbs, and
adjectives,aswellascommonprepositionsandconjunctions.
Forexample,mar(manorperson)isthemostcommonnouninthesagas,andkonungr
(king)isthesecondmostcommonnoun.Ifyouconcentrateonlearningthefiftymostcommon
nouns,youwillhavemasteredthelargemajorityofthefrequentlyusednounsinthelanguage.
Thesameforverbs.Thefirsttwomostfrequentarevera(tobe)andhafa(tohave),whenyou
becomefamiliarwiththefiftieth,youwillhaveatyourgraspthemostfrequentverbsinOld
Norse,whethersagasfromIcelandorrunicinscriptionsfromSweden.
Belowaretwolistsofthesame246MostFrequentWordsintheSagas.Thefirstlist(A)
givesthe246wordsdividedbypartsofspeechintothe50mostcommonnouns,adjectives,
pronouns,numerals,verbs,prepositionsandadverbs,andconjunctions.Thesecondlist(B)is
arrangedalphabetically.Dependingontheinformationyouseekatdifferenttimes,bothlists
areuseful.
Anaddedbenefittothislearningstrategyisthatthemajorityofthe246entriesinthelists
belowremainamongthemostcommonwordsinModernIcelandic.Forexamplemar(spelled
maurinmodernIcelandic)andskipremainamongthemostfrequentnouns,whiletheverbs
vera,hafa,andsegjaarestillatthetopoftheirfrequencylist.

A.THE246MOSTFREQUENTWORDSINTHESAGAS(bypartofspeech)

1.
2.
3.
4.

marman,person
konungrking
skipship
mlspeech;case,
matter

5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

NOUNS
sonrson
hndhand
fwealth;livestock
brirbrother
vetrwinter

10.
11.
12.
13.
14.

landland
konawoman
radvice;plan
dagrday
frndikinsman

slendingasgurorstulykillogtexti:Handbk.Eds.BergljtS.Kristjnsdttir,EirkurRgnvaldsson(chief
editor),GurnInglfsdttirandrnlfurThorsson.2nded.Reykjavk:Mlogmenning,1998.

26

CHAPTER1READINGSFROMTHEFAMILYANDKINGSSAGAS

CHAPTER1

READINGSFROM
THEFAMILYANDKINGSSAGAS

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veitat,erreynterGrettissaga
(Itisknownwhenitistested)

Figure1.1.LondonBridgeisFallingDownafterbeingpulledapartbyattackingVikingships.Thepassage
belowfromHeimskringla,ahistoryofthekingsofNorwaywritteninmedievalIceland,describesthe
destructionofthefortifiedbridgein1013.Theevent,rememberedinEngland,isthehistoricalsource
ofthechildrenssong.

1.1LONDONBRIDGEPULLEDDOWN

LONDONBRIDGEFROMTHESAGAOFST.OLAF(LFSSAGAHELGA,HEIMSKRINGLA)1

Beginningintheyear1003,KingSveinForkbeard(SveinntjguskeggHaraldsson)ofDenmark
carriesoutadecadelongmilitarycampaignagainstAngloSaxonEngland.Duringtheconquest,
Londonbridgeispulleddown.TheDanishinvasionofEnglandincludesVikingsfromdifferent

Heimskringla,the13thcenturycollectionofsagasaboutNorwegiankings,isattributedtotheIcelandicchieftain
andmanoflettersSnorriSturluson.FormoreonHeimskringlaandSnorriSturluson,seeVikingLanguage1.

VIKINGLANGUAGE2:THEOLDNORSEREADER

27

EW

parts of Scandinavia. After years of war, England's King thelred (Aalrr konungr) is
defeatedandin1013fleesacrosstheEnglishChanneltoNormandy.2
InNormandy,thelredacquiressupportersandhiresshiploadsofmercenariesinorder
toattemptacomeback.AmongthehiredwarriorsaremanyVikings.OneisayoungNorwegian
namedOlaf(lfr)Haraldsson.KnownasOlaftheStout(inndigri),hehasalreadyfoughtfor
severalyearsagainstthelredwiththeDanesunderKingSvein.Olaf,wholaterbecomes
Norwayskingandthenitspatronsaint,switchessidesandfightsforKingthelredagainstthe
Danesinreturnforalargepaymentofsilver.
The passage below is from The Saga of St. Olaf (lfs saga helga) in Heimskringla. It
describesOlafsactionsin1013.Atthetime,OlafisleadingacontingentofVikingmercenaries
inthelredsarmyandjoinstheEnglishkinginattackingtheDanishVikinggarrisonsinLondon
(Lundn)andthemarkettownofSouthwark(Svirki).Thesetwowalledtownslieacrossfrom
eachotherontheThamesandareconnectedbyabridge(bryggja)thatcontrolstrafficonthe
river.Thebridgeisaformidableobstaclewithfortificationsbuiltuponit.Itrestsontimber
pilingsdrivenintotheriverbed.Whenassaultsonthewalledtownsfail,Olafvolunteersto
attackthebridgewithhisships.TheVikingscovertheirshipsforprotectionfromthedefenders
aboveandsucceedinlooseningthebridgespilings.

LFSSAGAHELGA(CHS1213)FROMHEIMSKRINGLA

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Aalrrkonungrvarmjkhugsjkr,hvernughannskyldivinnabryggjurnar.3Hannkallaital
allahfingjahersinsokleitairsvi,hvernugeirskyldikomaofanbryggjunum.4
segirlfrkonungr,athannmunfreistaatleggjatilsnulii,5efarirhfingjarviljaatleggja.
eirimlstefnuvaratrit,ateirskylduleggjahersinnuppundirbryggjurnar.Bj
hverr6sittlioksnskip.
Translate:

NormandinOldNorse,theregionofnorthernFranceacrosstheChannelfromEnglandthatwassettledby
Northmenacenturyearlier(ca.911)andnamdafterthem.
hvernughannskyldivinnabryggjurnar:howhewouldwinthebridge(skyldi,3sgpastsubjofskulu).Hvernug
isavariantofhvernig.
hvernugeirskyldikomaofanbryggjunum:howtheywouldteardownthebridge.
leggjatilsnulii:toattackwithhistroops.
Bjhverr:Eachthenmadeready.

28

CHAPTER1READINGSFROMTHEFAMILYANDKINGSSAGAS

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lfr konungr lt gera flaka stra af viartaugum ok af blautum vii7 ok taka sundr
vandahs8okltatberayfirskipsnsvvtt,attktafborum.9arlthannundirsetjastafi
svykktoksvhtt,atbivarhgtatvegaundan10okritstinntfyrirgrjti,efofanvri
borit.11Enerherrinnvarbinn,veitaeiratrrneaneptirnni.12Okereirkomanr
bryggjunum,varboritofanbiskotokgrjtsvstrt,atekkiheltvi,hvrtkihjlmar
nskildir,okskipinmeiddusksjlfkafliga.13Lgumargirfr.

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EnlfrkonungrokNormannalimehonumrrualltuppundirbryggjurnar14okbrukala
umstafina,eruppheldubryggjunum,oktku15okrrullumskipunumforstreymis,16
semmestmttueir.Stafirnirdrguskmegrunni,17allttilesser18eirvrulausirundir
bryggjunum.Enfyrirvatvpnarherrstbryggjunumykkt,arvarbigrjtmart19ok
hervpnmrg,enstafirnirvruundanbrotnir,brestaafvnirbryggjurnar,okfellrflkitmart
ofanna,enalltannatliitfliafbryggjunum,sumtborgina,ensumtSvirki.

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

blautumvii:soft,greenorrawwood.
vandahs:housesconstructedofwattleanddaub,thatisfrombranchescoveredwithamixtureofmudand
manure.
okltatberayfirskipsnsvvtt,attktafborum:andhadthemcarried[placed]overhisshipssofarthat
theystretchedoutoverthesidesoftheships.
atbivarhgtatvegaundan:that[thewickershield)wasbotheasytofightunderneath.vega:tothrust
orhewwithweapons.
efofanvriborit:ifthesewereborne[thrown]downuponitfromabove.
veitaeiratrrneaneptirnni:theysetoutrowingupalongtheriver.
okskipinmeiddusksjlfkafliga:andtheshipsthemselveswereexceedinglydamaged.
alltuppundirbryggjurnar:allthewayupunderthebridges.
:referstotheropes.
Theyusedthestrengthoftheriversdownstreamcurrenttopulldownthebridge.
Stafirnirdrguskmegrunni:Thepoleswerepulledalongtheriverbed.
allttilesser:rightuptothepointwhen.
mart=margt(nnom/accsgofmargr).

46

CHAPTER2CREATIONOFTHEWORLD

CHAPTER2

CREATIONOFTHEWORLD:
YMIR,YGGDRASIL,ANDASGARD

EW

FtterrammaraenforneskjanGrettisSaga
(Littleismightierthanoldlore)

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MYTHOLOGICALREADINGS.Thereadingsinthischapter
aredrawnfromTheProseEdda.Theyrecountevents
from the creation and earliest days of the world.1
Thenextchapterlookstothedoomofthegodsat
thefinalbattle.TheProseEddaisalsocalledSnorra
Edda(SnorrisEdda),becauseitisattributedtothe
IcelanderSnorriSturluson(d1241).2
The Prose Edda, along with the poems of The
PoeticorElderEdda,isourmostextensivesourcefor
Norse mythology. In straightforward prose, inter
spersedwitheddicandskaldicstanzas,itrecounts
storiesofthegods,giants,dwarvesandothermythic
and supernatural creatures. The Prose Edda also
preservesheroictalesandpartsofancientlaysabout
thestrugglesoflegendarykings,queens,andwar
riors.LikethepoemsofThePoeticEdda,TheProse
EddaincorporatesstoriesfromtheVikingAge.Some
ofthenarrativesreachasfarbackastheMigration

Figure2.1.Aoneeyedgodwhoseesall.
NineteenthcenturyNorwegianwoodcut.

ModerneditionsofTheProseEddarelyprincipallyononelargelyintactvellummanuscriptGks23674to,known
byitsLatinname,CodexRegius,orbyitsIcelandicname,Konungsbk(theKingsBook).Thisnameissharedwith
manuscriptGks23654to,whichcontainsamajorityoftheknowneddicpoetry.Manuscriptsaretypicallynamed
afteracollectionwheretheyareorhavebeenhoused.Forexample,GksisanabbreviationforGammel
kongeligsamling,(OldRoyalCollection)inCopenhagen.The4to,(quarto)inthenamereferstothesizeofthe
parchment.ManyofthemanuscriptsthatwerepreviouslyinCopenhagenarenowhousedinReykjavkatthe
rniMagnussonInstitute(AM).
ThemainreasonforassumingSnorri'sauthorshipofTheProseEddaisthefollowingshortpassagefromthe
CodexUpsaliensis,anearlyfourteenthcenturyIcelandicmanuscript,whichtodayisinUppsalaUniversityLibrary.
Thepassagereads:ThisbookiscalledEdda.SnorriSturlusoncompiled[literally,assembled]itinthewaythat
itisarrangedhere.Firstittellsaboutthesir[thegods]andYmir[theprimordialgiant],thencomesthepoetic
dictionsectionwiththepoeticnamesofmanythingsandlastlyapoemcalledHttatal(ListofMeters)which
SnorricomposedaboutKingHakonandDukeSkuli.SnorreSturlusonsEdda:UppsalaHandskriftenDG11.Vol
II. Transcribed by Anders Grape, Gotfried Kallstenius and Olof Thorell. Uppsala, 1977, p. 1. For a modern
transaltion,seeSnorriSturluson,TheProseEdda:NorseMythology.PenguinClassics.

VIKINGLANGUAGE2:THEOLDNORSEREADER

47

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Period,thetimeinNorthernEuropefromthefourthtosixthcenturiesADwhentheRoman
Empirewascollapsed,andnorthernclansandtribesmovedfromtheirhomelandsintoregions
oftheEmpire.
ThecentralgroupofmythologicalstoriesinTheProseEddaiscalledGylfaginning(The
DeludingofGylfi).GylfaginningiswrittenasadialoguebetweentheSwedishKingGylfiand
threeformidablegodlikefigures,High,JustasHighandThird(Hr,Jafnhr,andrii).Seeking
knowledge,GylfidisguiseshimselfasatravelernamedGangleri(meaningstrider,walker,
orwanderer)andjourneystovisitthesir,amysteriouspeoplesaidtobenewlyarrivedin
theNorth.Inthemajesticbutillusoryhallofthesir,Gangleri/GylfimeetsHighandhistwo
companions,whositonthrones,oneabovetheother.ThethreearemanifestationsofOdin.
FromthemGangleritriestodiscoverthesourceofthesirspower,andheprobesthesesir
withquestions.Storybystory,thethreerevealwhattheyknow.
GanglerisdialoguewithHigh,JustasHighandThirdresemblescontestsofwisdomfound
ineddicpoemssuchasTheLayofVafthrudnir(Vafrnisml),whereOdinpitshismastery
ofmythicknowledgeagainstthegiantVafthrudnir.Suchwisdomcontestswereadversarial,
andGangleriistoldatthestartofthecontestthathewillnotleaveunharmedunlesshegrows
wiser.
EDDICPOEMSCITEDINTHEPROSEEDDA.ThemythicstoriesretoldinTheProseEddarelyona
numberofeddicpoems.Someofthesearenowlost.Forexample,Chapter27ofGylfaginning
mentionsHeimdallsChant(Heimdallargaldr),butthiseddicpoemislost.Manyeddicpoems
aboutthegods,however,surviveinThePoeticEdda.Belowisalistofthemythologicalpoems
fromThePoeticEddawhicharecitedinGylfaginning.
TheLayofFafnir(Ffnisml)
TheLayofGrimnir(Grmnisml)
TheLayofHyndla(Hyndlulj)
TheLayofSkirnir(Skrnisml)
TheLayofVafthrudnir(Vafrnisml)

LokisFlyting(Lokasenna)
TheSayingsoftheHighOne(Hvaml)
TheSibylsProphecy(Vlusp)
TheShorterSibylsProphecy(Vluspin
skamma)

Attimes,stanzasfoundinThePoeticEddavaryfromtheircounterpartsinTheProseEdda.
ThedifferencesofwordingbetweenlinesfoundinTheProseEddaandThePoeticEddacanbe
significant.

2.1CREATION:YMIR,AUDHUMLA,ANDODIN

The Norse gods live in a world of constant danger, and their actions frequently have
unanticipatedconsequences.InthecreationstorytoldinGylfaginning,Odin(inn)andhis
twobrothers(ViliandV)3slayYmir4theprimordialgiant.Ymirisafrostgiant,ahrmurs,and
thegodsuseYmirsbody,togetherwithhisbones,andblood,tocreatetheworldbyfilling

KnownalsoasViljiandVi.
Ymir:alsomir.

48

CHAPTER2CREATIONOFTHEWORLD

Ginnungagap,thegreatvoid.Theslayinggivesrisetolife,butitalsounleashesthepowerof
thegiants,thegodsenemies.Inthefollowingpassage,GangleriquestionsHighaboutYmir,
afterHightellshim:Hinngamlihrmurs,hannkllumvr5mi.

YMIR(THEPRIMORDIALGIANT),AUHUMLA(THEFERTILECOW),ANDTHEBIRTHOFINNANDHIS
TWOBROTHERSVILIANDV(GYLFAGINNING6)

EW

mlirGangleri:HvarbyggiYmir?Eavihvatlifihann?Nstvarat,erhrmit
draup,6atarvarafkrserAuhumla7ht,enfjrarmjlkr8runnurspenumhennar,ok
fddi hon Ymi. mlir Gangleri: Vi hvat fddisk krin? Hr segir: Hon sleikti
hrmsteinana,ersaltirvru,9okhinnfyrstadag,erhonsleiktisteina,komrsteininumatkveldi
mannshr,annandagmannshfu,rijadagvararallrmar;sernefndr10Bri.Hannvar
fagrlitum,mikillokmttugr.Hanngatsonann,erBorrht.Hannfekkeirarkonu,erBesla
ht,dttirBlornsjtuns,okfenguaurjsonu:hteinninn,annarrVili,riiV;okat
ermntra,atsinnokhansbrrmunuverastrandihiminsokjarar.

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Translate:__________________________________________________________________
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____________________________________________________________________

BERGELMIRANDTHESECONDRACEOFFROSTGIANTS(GYLFAGINNING7)

mlirGangleri:Hvatvarumeirastt,eahvrirvrurkari?
svararHr:SynirBorsdrpuYmijtun;enerhannfell,hljpsvmikitblrsrum
hans,atmevdrekktueirallritthrmursa,nemaeinnkomskundanmesnuhski;

10

vrplpronwe<acc/datoss,genvr>.
draupdrippedfromdrjpa.
Auhumla:Thegreatcowatthestartoftime.Aumeansrich,fertile,andfruitfulandhumlawithouthorns.
mjlkr(nomsgmjlk)friversofmilk.
vru3plpastofvera.
nefndrnamedfromnefna.

VIKINGLANGUAGE2:THEOLDNORSEREADER

105

CHAPTER7

SETTLINGTHENORTHATLANTIC:ICELAND

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ykkirmarviatfvssvera,
efhannkannarekkivaraenhrslandLaxdlasaga

Figure7.1.TheNorthAtlanticWorldoftheMedievalIcelanderswithlocationsalong
thesailingroutesdescribedinTheBookofSettlements.

WESTINTOTHENORTHATLANTIC

VikingAgevoyagesintothefarNorthAtlantictoIceland,Greenland,andVinlandwerepartof
anepochofseaborneexpansionthatsawScandinavianpeoplessettleinShetland,Orkney,the

106

CHAPTER7SETTLINGTHENORTHATLANTIC,ICELAND

Hebrides,Scotland,Ireland,andtheFaroeIslands.1Manylandnmsmenn(landtakersorfirst
settlers;thetermincludeswomen)camedirectlyfromScandinavia,especiallyfromNorway.
SomealsocamefromVikingencampmentsandNorsecoloniesintheCelticlands,especially
theHebridesandIreland.NorsesettlersbroughtwiththemGaelicwives,followers,andslaves.
SomecolonistswerepartorallCelt.2

7.1SAILINGROUTES

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The two reading passages below from Landnmabk describe sailing routes in the North
AtlanticfromVikingtimesthroughthethirteenthcentury.Ifallwentwell,thevoyageswere
accomplishedwithinthetimeframesgiven.Ifwindsandstormsprovedcontrary,astheyoften
did,thevoyagescouldbemuchlongerandtheseafarersmightendupinplacesasdistantas
NorthAmerica.
The manuscripts of Landnmabk have a complicated transmission history. The first
versionsarethoughttohavecomefromthetwelfthcentury,buttheseearliestvariantsare
lost.Versionsfromthethirteenthcenturyandlateroftencontainadditionalmaterialadded
byscribesandowners.
ThetwopassagesbelowcomefromtwocloselyconnectedLandnmabkmanuscripts,
HauksbkandSturlubk.ThefirstpassageisfromSturlubkandthesecondfromHauksbk.
Theyprovideexamplesofvariationsamongdifferentmanuscriptswithsimilarpassages.
Landnmabk(Sturlubk2)
Svsegjavitrirmenn,atrNregifrStaissjaudgrasiglingvestrtilHornsslandi

austanveru, en fr Snfellsnesi, ar er skemmst er, er fjgurra dgra haf vestr til


Grnlands.Ensversagt,efsiglterrBjrgyn3rttvestrtilHvarfsins4Grnlandi,at

munsigltveratylft5fyrirsunnansland.FrReykjanesisunnanveruslandi6erfimmdgra
haftilJlduhlaups7rlandi[sur;enfrLanganesinoranveruslandier]fjgurradgra

hafnorrtilSvalbarahafsbotn.

Landnmabk(Hauksbk2)
Svsegjavitrirmenn,atrNregifrStaissjaudgrasiglingtilHornsaustanveruslandi,
enfrSnjfjallsnesi8fjgurradgrasiglingtilHvarfsGrnalandi.AfHernum9afNregiskal

8
9

FormoreonthesettlementoftheNorthAtlantic,especiallyIceland,seeVikingAgeIceland,PenguinBooks,
2001,Chapter1,AnImmigrantSociety.
InthesagastherearemanyCelticnames,suchasNjllandKormkr(OldIrish,Nall[NealorNeil]andCormac).
BergeninNorway.
CapeFarewell.
tylft:fromthenumbertwelve,i.e.twelvemilesorleaguesdistant,theconnotationisahalfdayssail.
TheReykjanesPenisula.
ProbablySlyneHead.
Snfellsnes.
Hernar,nearBergen(Bjrgvin)inNorway.

VIKINGLANGUAGE2:THEOLDNORSEREADER

107

siglajafnanvestrtilHvarfsGrnlandi,okersigltfyrirnoranHjaltland,10svatvateins
sat,atallgssjvarsn,enfyrirsunnanFreyjar,11svatsjrermijumhlum,12en
svfyrirsunnansland,ateirhafaaffuglokhval.FrReykjanesisunnanveruslandier
riggjadgrahaftilJlduhlaupsrlandisur;enfrLanganesinoranveruslandier
fjgurradgrahaftilSvalbaranorrhafsbotn,endgrsiglingertilbyggaGrnalandi

7.2DIRECTIONSANDTIME

EW

rKolbeinseynorr.

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COMPASS DIRECTIONS. The Old Norse


wordsfornorth,south,east,andwest
arenorr,sur,austr,andvestr.Direc
tions in the West Norse Atlantic re
gion, including those found in the
Icelandic sagas, were based on Nor
wegiangeography.UsingNorwayasa
point of reference, northwest was
(tnorr),southwest(tsur),north
east (landnorr) and southeast
(landsur).
In Iceland, tnorr meant going
northwest,whichisthedirectionone
wouldtakefromNorwayifgoingout
andnorthovertheocean.Landnorr
meant northeast, as if going inland Figure 7.2. The Names of the Old Icelandic Compass
andnorthfromthecoastofNorway. Points are connected to directions of winds blowing in
westernNorway.Forexample,tnyringrwasthename
Vestrumhafwasacommonphrase ofawindblowingfromthenorthwest,out(t)fromthe
meaningwestovertheoceanfrom seatowardland.Thedirectionthatthewindiscoming
Norwayandreferredtosailingtothe fromiscalledtnorr.Therewasalsotsynningr.Inthe
VikingAgethesetermswereusedinWestOldNorse,and
BritishIsleswestfromNorway.
Some populations were named althoughtheydonotquitefitIceland,theypassedinto
OldIcelandicandarefoundinthesagas.
accordingtothelocationoftheirlands
relativetoScandinavia.Forexample,
Surmenn(southmenorsoutherners)referredparticularlytoGermansorSaxons.Icelanders
calledNorwegiansAustmenn,referringtothelocationofNorwayeastofIceland.
RELATIVEDIRECTIONS.Arelativesenseofgeographyappliedtocompassdirectionsaswellasto
population names. Iceland was divided into four political quarters, each named after the

10

11

12

TheShetlands.
TheFaroeIslands.
Sothattheseaonthehorizonstandshalfwayupthefaceofthecliffs.

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CHAPTER7SETTLINGTHENORTHATLANTIC,ICELAND

TELLINGTIME(DAYMARKS)

EW

cardinalpoints.Forexample,theWesternQuarter(Vestfiringafjrungr,thequarterofthe
peopleoftheWestFjords)andNorthernQuarter(Norlendingafjrungr).Whentraveling
intoadifferentquarterofIceland,peopleweresaidtobetravelinginthedirectionofthat
quarterevenifthiswerenotthestrictcompassdirection.Hence,whensomeonefromthe
EasternQuarter(Austfiringafjrungr)rodewesttotheAlthing,whichwasintheSouthern
Quarter(Sunnlendingafjrungr),hewassaidtoberidingsouth.
RelativedirectionswerealsoappliedtoEurope,whichintheNorsesenseofgeographywas
dividedintocardinalquarters:norrlnd,thenorthernlands,includedScandinavia;surlnd
includedtheregionsofGermany;vestrlndincludedtheBritishIslesandFrance;andaustrlnd
encompassedeasternEurope,Russia,andtheOrient.Itwaspossibletotraveleastfrom
NorwayandarriveatConstantinople,whichwasinaustrlnd.
ForNorseseamenandIcelandicwriters,thesystemofrelativegeographydidnotconflict
withtheirabilitytoorientthemselvesbytruecompassdirections.Eventoday,ifonetravels
withinIcelandfromReykjavktothetownofsafjrurintheWestFjords,oneissaidtofara
vesturtilsafjararfrReykjavk(travelwesttosafjrurfromReykjavk)eventhoughthe
directionisstraightnorth.Similarly,ifonetravelsfromeasternIcelandtoReykjavk,atwenty
firstcenturyIcelanderwouldsayfarasuurtilReykjavkur(travelsouthtoReykjavk)even
thoughReykjavkistothewest.

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Ratherthanemployinghours,theNorsedividedthedayintodaymarks(dagsmrk)which
recorded the position of the sun over the horizon. Day marks were especially useful in
seafaring.Theycoincidedwiththecompasspointsandoftencorrespondedwithlandmarks.
Thetimewhenthesunpassedovera
daymark varied, depending on latitude
andseason.Risml(risingtime)mightbe
6:00aminwinterbut5:00aminsummer.
Dagml could vary seasonally between
8:30 am and 9:30 am, while mintti
(midnight)andhdegi(highnoon)varied
less.
Somedaymarkswereknownbymulti
plenames,muchlikethewordsnoonand
middayinEnglish.Forexample,rismlis
alsomirmorginn,hdegiisalsomirdagr
ormidegi,andeyktisalsoeyktarmrkand Figure7.3.Daymarks(dagsmrk).
nn.13Minttiisalsomintt,andttais
alsoelding,aftrelding,ormieykt.Eykt,whichispartofseveraldaymarks,refersto1/8,that
isincrementsofthreehoursoftheday.
13

NooninEnglishusageis12pm,whereasnnis3pm.

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CHAPTER9AUDUNFROMTHEWESTFJORDS

CHAPTER9

THETALEOFAUDUNFROMTHEWESTFJORDS,
AUUNARTTRVESTFIRZKA

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Erkonungsgarrrmrinngangs,enrngrbrottfararEgilssaga

Figure9.1.TravelsofAudunfromIcelandsWestFjords.

A TALE (TTR) FROM THE WEST FJORDS.AtthecoreofAuunarttrliestheissueofluck,a


conceptwhichinOldNorseculturewastermedgfaorgipta.Inthesagas,gfahaslittleto
do with blind chance, rather luck turns on how individuals successfully or unsuccessfully
manage their opportunities. A person of good luck was called a gfumar, a term which
appearsprominentlyinAuunarttr.Audun,apoorboyfromIcelandsWestFjords,travels
widely.Asayoungman,hefindshimselfinGreenlandwhereheseizestheopportunityto
purchaseagreattreasure,awhitebearfromthefarnorth.
Setinthemideleventhcentury,Auunarttrdisplaysadetailedunderstandingofthe
historyandgeographyoftheVikingworld.Itrelatesthenaturesoftwofamouskingsfromthe
lateVikingperiod.One,HaraldHardradi(Harri,hardruler)ruledNorwayfrom10461066.
Theother,SveinEstridssonorUlfsson(strarsonorlfsson)reignedinDenmarkfrom1047

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127

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1076.1Thettrisastudyofcharacter,andeventsturnonthedifferingtreatmentthatAudun
receivesfromthetwokings.FormingabackdroptoAudunsTale,theseVikingAgesovereigns
wereswornenemiesinvolvedinyearsofrivalryandwarfare.Themedievalaudiencewould
havequicklygraspedthedangerthatAudunfindshimselfinwhenherefusestogiveagiftto
onekinginordertogiveagifttotheother.Audunspersonalqualitiesandthetemperaments
ofthetwokingsarewelldrawn.
Ontheonehand,thettrhasafolkloristicquality.Itfollowsitsherosjourneyand
assesseshisabilitytoseizeopportunity,passsafelythroughdangers,andthenreturnhome
withwealthandrenown.Ontheother,thetaleisfirmlyanchoredinIcelandichistoryand
genealogy.ThelastlineofthettrtellsthatAudunistheancestorofThorsteinGyduson
(orsteinn Gyuson).ThorsteinlivedonFlatey(FlatIsland)inBreiafjrr(Broadfjordin
westernIceland)anddrownedin1190.ThorsteinismentionedthreetimesinSturlungasaga
aswellasinTheSagaofBishopGudmundArason(GumundarsagabiskupsArasonar).Some
oftheIcelandicannalsnotehisdeath.2
Auunarttrisfoundinmedievalmansucriptcollectionsofbothkingssagasandfamily
sagas.ItispreservedintwolargeandimportantIcelandicskinbooks.One,Flateyjarbk(The
BookofFlatey)containsmanystoriesofthekings.Theother,Morkinskinna(moldyskin),
preservesthettramongacollectionofkings'sagassetintheyearsfromca.1025to1157.

ThetextgivenbelowisbasedontheslenzkfornriteditioninVestfiringasgur,edited
byBjrnK.rlfssonandGuniJnsson(slenzkfornrit6.Reykjavk:Hislenzkafornritaflag,
1943). The tale is also found in rmann Jakobsson and rur Ingi Gujnsson (eds.).
MorkinskinnaIII.(slenzkfornrit2324.Reykjavk:Hislenzkafornritaflag,2011).

9.1Auunarttrvestfirzka
1.kaptuli

MarhtAuunn,vestfirzkratkyni okfltill.Hannfrtanvestrarfjrummeumbri
orsteins,4bandags,okrisstrimanns,erarhafiegitvistofvetrinnmeorsteini.5
Auunnvarokarokstarfaifyrirhonumriokessilaunafhonum,tanferinaokhans
umsj.HannAuunnlagimestanhlutafjress,ervar,6fyrmursna,rhannstigiskip,
okvarkveitriggjavetrabjrg.7
1

SveinwasnamedafterbothhisfatherUlf(lfr)andhismotherEstrid(strr).Unusualforaprominent
manoftheperiod,Sveinoftenisknownbythenameofhismotherstrr,thedaughteroftheDanish
KingSveinForkbeard(Sveinntjguskegg).SveinsfatherJarllfrwasinvolvedinunsuccessfulintrigues,
andSveinseemstohaveadoptedhismothersnameinordertoemphasizethathewasamemberofthe
Danishroyallinethroughhismother.
SagaGumundarArasonar,Hlabiskups,hinelzta,saysthathedrowned.
vestfirzkratkyni:ofWestFjorddescent.
arfjrummeumbriorsteins:fromthefjordsundertheguidanceofThorstein.
erarhafiegitvistofvetrinnmeorsteini:whohadacceptedlodgingswithThorsteinthatwinter.
esservar:ofthatwhichtherewas,i.e.,thatheowned.
varkveitriggjavetrabjrg:thiswasagreedtobesubsistence[foodandlodging]forthreewinters
[i.e.,threeyears].

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CHAPTER9AUDUNFROMTHEWESTFJORDS

EW

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Oknfaraeirthean,okferskeimvel,8okvarAuunnofvetrinneptirmeri
strimanni;hannttibMri.OkumsumariteptirfaraeirttilGrnlandsokeruarof
vetrinn.
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esservigetit,atAuunnkaupirarbjarndri9eitt,gersimimikla,okgafarfyriralla
eigu sna. Ok n of sumarit eptir fara eir aptr til Nregs ok vera vel reifara;10 hefir
AuunndrsittmesroktlarnatfarasurtilDanmerkrfundSveinskonungs11okgefa
honumdrit.Okerhannkomsurlandit,arsemkonungrvarfyrir,12gengrhannuppaf
skipiokleiireptirsrdrit13okleigirsrherbergi.
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10

11
12

13

ferskeimvel:theirjourneywentwell.
bjarndri:compoundwordofbjrnanddri(bearandanimal),probablyapolarbear,whichwashighly
valuedinEuropeinthattime.Driisanunusualformfordr.
TheFlateyjarbkversionofAuunarttrtellsthisaboutAudunstripbacktoNorway:rirstrimar
frartilbssns,enAuunnfekksrfaraustrtilVkrokhafidrsittmesr.Enerhannkomtilsl,
gekkhannlandmedrsitt.
Sveinnkonungr:SveinUlfsson,reignedoverDenmarkfrom10471076.
varfyrir:wastobefound.
leiireptirsrdrit:leadsthebearbehindhim.

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Haraldikonungivarsagtbrtt,atarvarkomitbjarndri,gersimimikil,ok14slenzkr
mar.Konungrsendiregarmenneptirhonum,okerAuunnkomfyrirkonung,kverhann
konungvel.Konungrtkvelkvejuhansokspurisan:"ttugersimimiklabjarndri?"Hann
svararokkvezkeigadriteitthvert.Konungrmlti:"Villtuseljaossdritvislkuveri15sem
keyptir?"Hannsvarar:"Eigivilekat,herra.""Villtu,"segirkonungr,"atekgefartvau
verslk,16okmunatrttara,17efhefirarvigefitallanaeigu?""Eigivilekat,herra,"
segirhann.Konungrmlti:"Villtugefamr?Hannsvarar:Eigiherra.Konungrmlti:Hvat
villtuafgera?Hannsvarar:Fara,segirhann,tilDanmerkrokgefaSveinikonungi.Haraldr
konungrsegir:Hvrter,atertmarsvvitr,athefireigiheyrtfriann,ermillier
landaessa,18eatlargiptunasvmikla,atmunirarkomaskmegersimar,erarir
feigikomizkklaklaust,atnausyneigitil?19Auunnsvarar:Herra,ateryruvaldi,en
engujtuvrruenessu,ervrhfumrtlat.20mltikonungr:Hvmuneigiattil,
atfarirleina,semvill,okkomtilmn,erferraptr,oksegmr,hversuSveinn
konungrlaunarrdrit,okkannatvera,atsrgfumar.vheitekr,sagiAuunn.
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14

15

16

17

18

19

20

:presentofeiga,pasttti.
vislkuveri:atthesameprice.
tvauverslk:twicethepriceyougave.
munatrttara:thatwouldbefairer.
A detailed depiction of this war is given in the Saga of Harald Hardradi (Haralds saga harra) in
Morkinskinna,Fagrskinna,andHeimskringla.
atnausyneigitil:thoughtheymighthave(eigiissubjuncofeiga)urgentbusinessthere.
enengujtu...rtlat:butI[we]willnotagreetoanythingotherthanwhatIintendedbefore.

138

CHAPTER 10 HRAFNKELS SAGA

CHAPTER 10

HRAFNKELS SAGA,
HRAFNKELS SAGA FREYSGOA

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Skmm er hfs vi Hrafnkels saga

Figure 10.1. The Region of Hrafnkels Saga in Icelands East Fjords. Hrafnkel lived first at Aalbl
(Main Farm) in Hrafnkelsdalr (Hrafnkels Valley) and later at Hrafnkelsstair (Hrafnkels Steads) in
Fljtsdalr (River Valley) in Fljtsdalshera (River Valley District).

A SAGA OF FEUD

Hrafnkels Saga is a story of ambition, vengeance, and honor in the mountainous Fljtsdalr
region of Icelands East Fjords. Hrafnkel arrives in Iceland as a boy of fifteen during the

140

CHAPTER 10 HRAFNKELS SAGA


south-west] to Eyjafjord [in the north] is no more than going past a few houses. The
distant corners of the island are near each other. There is no sense of those impersonal
forces, those nameless multitudes that make history a different thing from biography
in other lands.3

EW

Hrafnkels Saga is relatively short. Unlike longer family sagas, which mention many people, it
names relatively few characters. For example, the much longer Njals Saga names almost six
hundred people, while Hrafnkels Saga names twenty-four and has only eight main characters.
Except for one vellum leaf from an early fifteenth century manuscript, Hrafnkels Saga survives
in only late paper manuscripts. The following text of the saga is drawn from, Austfiringa
sgur, ed. Jn Jhannesson, slenzk fornrit 11. Reykjavk: Hi slenzka fornritaflag, 1950.

12.1 HRAFNKELS SAGA FREYSGOA


1. kaptuli

at var dgum Haralds konungs ins hrfagra, Hlfdanar sonar ins svarta, Gurar sonar
veiikonungs, Hlfdanar sonar ins milda ok ins matarilla, Eysteins sonar freys, lfs sonar
trtelgju Svakonungs, at s mar kom skipi snu til slands Breidal, er Hallfrer ht. at er
fyrir nean Fljtsdalshera. ar var skipi kona hans ok sonr, er Hrafnkell ht. Hann var

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fimmtn vetra gamall, mannvnn ok grviligr. Hallfrer setti b saman. Um vetrinn andaisk
tlend ambtt, er Arnrr ht, ok v heitir at san Arnrarstum.4
En um vrit fri Hallfrer b sitt norr yfir heii ok geri b ar, sem heitir Geitdal. Ok

eina ntt dreymi hann, at mar kom at honum ok mlti: 'ar liggr , Hallfrer, ok heldr
varliga. Fr brott b itt ok vestr yfir Lagarfljt. ar er heill n ll.' Eptir at vaknar hann
ok frir b sitt t yfir Rang Tungu, ar sem san heitir allfrearstum, ok bj ar til elli.
En honum var ar eptir geit ok hafr. Ok inn sama dag, sem Hallfrer var brott, hljp skria
hsin, ok tndusk ar essir gripir, ok v heitir at san Geitdal.

2. kaptuli

Hrafnkell lagi at vana sinn at ra yfir heiar sumarit. var Jkulsdalr albyggr upp
at brm. Hrafnkell rei upp eptir Fljtsdalsheii ok s, hvar eyidalr gekk af Jkulsdal. S dalr
sndisk Hrafnkatli byggiligri en arir dalir, eir sem hann hafi r st. En er Hrafnkell kom
heim, beiddi hann fur sinn fjrskiptis, ok sagisk hann bsta vilja reisa sr. etta veitir fair

W. P. Ker, The Dark Ages. New York: Mentor Books, 1958: 200-201.
heitir at san Arnrarstum: later it was called [at] Arnthrudarstadir. A common feature of Old
Icelandic place names is to treat the preposition (here ) as part of the name and for the place to be in the dative
case. For example, Hli, (at) Hol.
lagi at vana sinn: made it his custom.

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

141

hans honum, ok hann gerir sr b dal eim ok kallar Aalbli. Hrafnkell fekk Oddbjargar
Skjldlfsdttur r Laxrdal. au ttu tv sonu. Ht inn ellri rir, en inn yngri sbjrn.
En er Hrafnkell hafi land numit Aalbli, efldi hann blt mikil.6 Hrafnkell lt gera
hof mikit. Hrafnkell elskai eigi annat go meir en Frey, ok honum gaf hann alla ina beztu gripi
sna hlfa vi sik.7 Hrafnkell byggi allan dalinn ok gaf mnnum land, en vildi vera yfirmar
eira ok tk goor8 yfir eim. Vi etta var lengt9 nafn hans ok kallar Freysgoi, ok var

EW

jafnaarmar10 mikill, en menntr11 vel. Hann rngi undir sik Jkulsdalsmnnum til
ingmanna hans,12 var linr ok blr vi sna menn, en strr ok stirlyndr vi Jkulsdalsmenn,
ok fengu af honum engan jafna. Hrafnkell st mjk einvgjum13 ok btti engan mann f,14
v at engi fekk af honum neinar btr, hvat sem hann geri.

Fljtsdalsheir er yfirferarill, grtt mjk ok blaut, en riu eir fegar jafnan hvrr til
annarra, v at gott var frndsemi eira. Hallfrei tti s lei torstt ok leitai sr leiar fyrir
ofan fell au, er standa Fljtsdalsheii. Fekk hann ar urrari lei ok lengri, ok heitir ar
Hallfreargata. essa lei fara eir einir, er kunnugastir eru um Fljtsdalsheii.

3. kaptuli

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Bjarni ht mar, er bj at eim b, er at Laugarhsum heitir. at er Hrafnkelsdal. Hann var


kvngar ok tti tv sonu vi konu sinni, ok ht annarr Smr, en annarr Eyvindr, vnir menn
ok efniligir. Eyvindr var heima me fer snum, en Smr var kvngar ok bj noranverum
dalnum eim b, er heitir Leiksklum, ok tti hann margt f. Smr var uppivzlumar mikill
ok lgknn, en Eyvindr gerisk farmar ok fr tan til Nregs ok var ar um vetrinn. aan fr
hann ok t lnd ok nam staar15 Miklagari ok fekk ar gar viringar af Grikkjakonungi ok
var ar um hr.

8
9

10
11
12

13
14

15

efldi hann blt mikil: he performed great sacrifices, possibly as much worship as sacrifice.
honum gaf hann alla ina beztu gripi sna hlfa vi sik: to him [Frey], he [Hrafnkel] gave half of all the best
possesions he had. Rather than divide or cut everything in half in order to sacrifice half to the god, Hrafnkel is
declaring a form of joint property ownership or partnership with Frey. Later in the saga, Hrafnkel gave half the
horse to Frey. The horse remained whole, and Hrafnkel shares his possession with Frey as his flagi. In
Vpnfiringa saga, Thorleif the Christian (orleifr Kristni) calls Christ his flagi.
tk goor: took the chieftaincy.
lengt: from lengja lengthened.
jafnaarmar: unjust, overbearing man.
menntr: accomplished.
rngi undir sik Jkulsdalsmnnum til ingmanna hans: forced the men of Jokulsdalr to be his thingmen.
Both pronouns sik and hans in rngdi undir sik and ingmanna hans refer to Hrafnkel.
st mjk einvgjum: was involved in many duels
btti engan mann f: never paid anyone compensation, (lit, 'compensated no man with payment [money]').
nam staar: stopped.

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CHAPTER 10 HRAFNKELS SAGA


Hrafnkell tti ann grip eigu sinni,16 er honum tti betri en annarr. at var hestr

brnmlttr at lit,17 er hann kallai Freyfaxa sinn. Hann gaf Frey, vin snum, ann hest
hlfan.18 essum hesti hafi hann sv mikla elsku, at hann strengi ess heit,19 at hann skyldi
eim manni at bana vera, sem honum rii n hans vilja.20
orbjrn ht mar. Hann var brir Bjarna ok bj eim b Hrafnkelsdal, er Hli ht,
gegnt Aalbli fyrir austan. orbjrn tti f ltit, en meg mikla. Sonr hans ht Einarr, inn

EW

elzti.21 Hann var mikill ok vel mannar. at var einu vri, at orbjrn mlti til Einars, at hann
mundi leita sr vistar nkkurar, -- 'v at ek arf eigi meira forvirki en etta li orkar, er hr er,
en r mun vera gott til vista,22 v at ert mannar vel. Eigi veldr stleysi essari
brottkvaning vi ik, v at ert mr arfastr barna minna. Meira veldr v efnaleysi mitt ok
ftk. En nnur brn mn gerask verkmenn. Mun r vera betra til vistar23 en eim.'
Einarr svarar: 'Of s hefir sagt mr til essa, v at n hafa allir rit sr vistir, r er
beztar eru, en mr ykkir illt at hafa rval af.'24

Einn dag tk Einarr hest sinn ok rei Aalbl. Hrafnkell sat stofu. Hann heilsar honum
vel ok glaliga. Einarr leitar til vistar vi Hrafnkel.

Hann svarai: 'Hv leitair essa sv s, v at ek munda vi r fyrstum tekit hafa?25

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En n hefi ek rit llum hjnum nema til eirar einnar iju, er munt ekki hafa vilja.'
Einarr spuri, hver s vri.

Hrafnkell kvazk eigi mann hafa rit til smalaferar, en lzk mikils vi urfa.26
Einarr kvazk eigi hira, hvat hann ynni, hvrt sem at vri27 etta ea annat, en lzk

tveggja missera bjrg hafa vilja.

'Ek geri r skjtan kost,' sagi Hrafnkell. ' skalt reka heim fimm tigu sauar28 seli ok

16
17
18

19

20

21
22
23

24

25
26

27
28

eigu sinni: in his possession.


at lit: in color.
Hann gaf Frey, vin snum, ann hest hlfan: He gave his friend Frey, half that horse.
hann strengi ess heit: he made this solemn vow.
sem honum rii n hans vilja: who would ride (subjunct) him without his [Hrafnkels] permission.
Sonr hans ht Einarr, inn elzti: His eldest son was named Einar.
r mun vera gott til vista: you will find it easy to find employment.
til vistar: vist means stay, dwelling. The word is related to vesa or vera.
n hafa allir rit sr vistir, r er beztar eru, en mr ykkir illt at hafa rval af: now everyone [will] have
found themselves situations [places to stay], those which are best, and it ill suits me to have [to make do with]
what is left of [them]. rval does not mean a selection, but what is left over when others have picked or chosen.
v at ek munda vi r fyrstum tekit hafa: otherwise you would have been the first I would have engaged.
Hrafnkell kvazk eigi mann hafa rit til smalaferar, en lzk mikils vi urfa: Hrafnkel said he had not hired
a shepherd but let it be known that he was in great need of one.
hvrt sem at vri: whatever there might be.
fimm tigu sauar: fifty ewes.

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CHAPTER 11

RUNES IN VIKING AND MEDIEVAL TIMES

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uilburk : amik1

Figure 11.1. Runic Letters of the Younger Futhark often represented multiple sounds or phonemes.
Here are some examples.

THE YOUNGER FUTHARK

Runes are often overlooked because of the variety, quality, and volume of Old Norse / Icelandic
sources. Yet runic writing was an integral part of Old Norse language and culture. During the
Viking Age and in the following medieval centuries, people of all social classes wrote in runes.
They called their runic script the futhark after the first six runic letters FUARk. Runes were
carved on wood, bark, stone, bone, antler, and metal, and inscriptions were employed for
identification, messaging, magic, and commemoration. Runes are found on weapons, jewelry,
runestones, and everyday items as far afield from mainland Scandinavia as Greenland, Iceland,

An Icelandic inscription from ca. 900 in the younger futhark. The runes were carved on a spindle whorl found
in the oldest part of Reykjavk by the archaeologist Vala Gararsdttir in 2009. The whorl is made from red
sandstone thought to be from Mount Esja across Faxafli Bay from Reykjavk. The stone shows considerable
wear, and the whorl, which was a useful everyday item, may have been in use for decades. It was owned by
a woman named Vilborg.

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CHAPTER 11 RUNES

the British Isles, the Baltic regions, Central Europe, Russia, and the Mediterranean.
Runes were in use in Scandinavia for more than thirteen centuries. They first appear
toward the end of the first century AD and continue in active use into the fourteenth century,
when they are mostly replaced by writing in Latin.2 Several related futharks evolved. The
earliest was called the elder futhark, divided into three groups.
THE ELDER FUTHARK

HNIJYPZS

f u a r k g w

h n i j

TBEML Q OD

EW

FUARKG W

E p R s

t b e m l ng o d

The elder futhark had twenty-four symbols representing an almost one-to-one agreement
between each rune and each sound in the language. As an alphabet, the elder futhark was
highy serviceable. With variations, it remained in use into the eighth century, or toward the
beginning of the Viking Age, when the elder futhark was replaced by the younger futhark. This
new, shortened futhark reduced the number of runes to sixteen, dropping the earlier one-toone correspondence between runic letter and the sounds in the language. Like the elder
futhark, the younger futhark was divided into three groups. In the Viking Age these groups
were called ttir (families).

PR
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THE YOUNGER FUTHARK3

f u
f

o r k

a3 ,o r

h n I

a s

t b m q l z

Individual runes in the younger futhark now represented more than one sound. The younger
futhark was easier to learn but inscriptions were harder to read. Some of the sounds in the
language from before the Viking Age, for example, /e/, /o/, /w/, /p/, /d/, /g/, are not clearly
distinguished in the younger futhark. During the Viking Age, the sounds in the language
increased, and vowels that were introduced or became prominent at the start of the Viking
Age, such as //, //, /y/, /o3 / are not clearly represented in the younger futhark.
Why available letters were dropped from the writing system when the sounds of the
language were increasing is a mystery. The opposite took place in the Old English use of runes,
where rune carvers added new runes to reflect the new sounds in their Anglo-Saxon language.
As time passed, several variations of the younger futhark evolved, adding new runic letters
to compensate for the limitations of the original sixteen runes. Some variations also reduced
the number of strokes or cuts needed to form individual runes. These shortened runes are
known as short-twig runes. They were faster and easier to carve than the long-stem characters

In some places in Scandinavia the use of runes continues into early modern times. This later tradition often
shows significant changes from the earlier futharks.
This listing of the younger futhark contains seventeen runes with two variants of the m-rune: m and q.

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

167

of the younger futhark. Here is a sampling of an intermediate futhark with some short twig
runes.
THE BEGINNING OF SHORT-TWIG RUNES

f u
f

r k

a3 ,o r

n I

a s

t i

b m
m

l z
l

ADDITIONAL VARIANTS AND DOTTED RUNES

EW

Toward the end of the Viking Age and continuing into


the medieval centuries, additional variants of the
younger futhark came into use. These employed shorttwig runes as well as what are known as dotted-runes.
The latter added new letters, for example e/e/, g/g/,

and y/y/. Short-twig and dotted runes were frequently combined.

RUNIC SPELLING

PR
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Spelling varies among runic inscriptions due to differences in pronunciation, the presence of regional
dialects, the skill and education of rune carvers, and
the lack of a recognized spelling standard. For example, geri, the past tense of gera, is spelled kari
(kari/gri) on the Danish Jelling stone and kIari
(kiari/gjri) in the Swedish Ramsund inscription.4
Similar spelling variations exist in vellum manuscripts.
For example, the verb gera (do or make) is spelled
gra, gra, grva, grwa, girva, giora, and gjra in
different manuscripts.
To overcome the problem of variation and to make
possible the production of dictionaries, scholars
standardize Old Norse spelling when reproducing the
Figure 11.2. The Hrning Runestone in
contents of manuscripts and runic inscriptions. Most the younger futhark with long-branch
standardizations are based principally on Old Icelandic, runes.
the dialect that we know best because of a large
number of surviving manuscripts.
The following examples and exercises in this chapter present runic inscriptions in three
ways: 1) the original runes; 2) a transliteration of the runes into their Latin equivalents; and 3)
a transcription of the runes into standardized Old Norse.

Both inscriptions are given in Viking Language 1.

168

CHAPTER 11 RUNES

11.1 THE HRNING RUNESTONE FROM JUTLAND IN DENMARK,


THE GRATITUDE OF A FREED MAN

PR
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EW

The Hrning Runestone probably dates from the late tenth or early eleventh century. The
stone was first recorded at the top of a bank close to a bridge across the rhus River at Bering
in the parish of Hrning in Jutland. A commemorative stone, it declares the status of Tki the
smith, the man who commissioned it, as a newly freed man. The inscription acknowledges the
patronage of orgsl Gumundarson,6 the man who freed Tki. It is of especial interest that
Tki is identified by his profession as a smith, but we do not know his range of skills. As well
as giving an example of social emancipation, this inscription is evidence that skilled craftsmen
could have unfree status even at the end of the Viking period.
The inscription is in three lines on one face of the stone. It starts at the bottom on the
left-hand side and reads upwards. Then it continues down the right-hand side from the apex
of this pointed stone. Finally it goes back up a central line to end in an incised Christian cross.
The name of orgsl, the man honoured, stands very prominently at the top of the stone. The
text is constructed using a common formula: X raised this stone after Y, followed by an
extension which tells us something about the individual commemorated (Y), or the
circumstances in which the inscribed stone was erected.
The runes used are characteristic of the younger futhark, and particularly of the slightly
conservative variant of that script which was maintained in Denmark. There are no dotted
runes, and the original form of t, t, appears. A curiosity is the preservation of the archaic
palatal R-rune z at the end of the genitive Gumundar while the simple r, r, appears in the
nominative singular sqir (smir) The spelling conventions of the younger futhark render the
word kul ambiguous: it could represent either kol ('coal') or gull ('gold'). Even in the case of a
smith, the latter seems more likely in a commemorative inscription of this kind.
Tki the smith also sponsored another runestone, raised 30km from the site of the Hrning
stone. This second stone commemorates a man called Refli, whose father and grandfather are
also named through patronymic formulae. That inscription ends with the Christian prayer, Gu
hjlp eira slu, 'God help their souls.'

THE HRNING RUNES

Tuki:sqir:ri:stin:ift
urkisl:kuqutaz:sun:is:hanuq
kaf:kul:uk:frialsi+

The following discussion of the Hrning, Tu, and Klepp 1 runestones was prepared by John Hines, professor
of Archaeology at the University of Cardiff, Wales. John (Professor Yr Athro) is an expert on runes and Vikings.
orgsl (urkisl) may be a misspelling for the common name orgils. In some sources orgsli is given as the
dative of orgils.

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

169

TRANSLITERATION OF THE HRNING RUNES


tuki : smir : ri : stin : ift
urkisl : kumutaR : sun : is : hanum
kaf : kul : uk : frialsi

Tki smir reisti stein eptir


orgsl Gumundarson, er honum
gaf gull ok frjlsi.

11.1-A. TRANSLATE THE HRNING RUNES

EW

STANDARDIZATION

___________________________________________________
___________________________________________________
___________________________________________________
___________________________________________________
___________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

VOCABULARY FOR THE HRNING RUNESTONE

PR
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eptir prep after


er (es) rel particle who, which, that
frjlsi n freedom
gefa <gefr, gaf, gfu, gefinn > vb give
Gumundarson m Gudmundarson (personal name, patronymic)
gull n gold
hann <dat honum> pron him
ok conj and
reisa vb <-ti, tr> vb raised
smir m smith
steinn <acc stein> m stone
orgsl m Thorgisl (Personal name), possibly orgils
orgils m Thorgils (personal name)
Tki m Toki (personal name)

Figure 11.3. The Tu Runestone.


The larger flat surface shows two
figures, a man and a woman. The
drawing, which shows the rune
carving from two different angles,
also shows where the stones is
slightly damaged.

11.2 TWO RUNESTONES FROM THE PARISH OF KLEPP


IN JREN, ROGALAND, NORWAY

The parish of Klepp lies in the Jren region of Rogaland, south of Stavanger. From this parish,
we have a pair of runestones, one from the farm of Tu and the other from the Klepp church
(ON kleppr rocky knoll, raised rock outcrop). The runes are thought to be from the end of the
tenth century. The two stones are connected to one another through a shared reference to a

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

207

CHAPTER 14

THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA):


A COMPLETE EDDIC POEM AND POETIC DEVICES

EW

JESSE BYOCK AND RUSSELL POOLE


at mun fram koma, sem auit verr
Gsla saga Srssonar

PR
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rymskvia is composed in fornyrislag meter. Mythological scenes rush by with incremental repetition as the
stanzas recount Thors struggle with the giant Thrym. The
poem begins in sgarr,1 but the action soon leads to the
world of the giants. rymskvia displays a variety of poetic
devices, the most important of which are described below.
The poem also displays varying sentence lengths. Sometimes a sentence spreads over both halves of a long line,
but sometimes one sentence fills a whole helming or half
stanza. On occasion, a whole stanza is a single sentence.

14.1 POETIC DEVICES

KENNINGS AND HEITI, A FIRST LOOK

Figure 14.1. A Thors Hammer


Pendant from stergtland,
Sweden. Similar pendants have
been found throughout the
Viking world, including in
Lolland, Denmark, where one
was inscribed with runes saying
hamarr es, establishing what
the pendants are meant to
symbolize. Thors hammer
Mjollnir is stolen from him in
The Lay of Thrym.

Kennings (kenning, pl kenningar), and heiti (sg and pl) are


among the most colorful features of Old Norse poetry.
They appear in eddic poems such as rymskvia, but they
are found most frequently in skaldic poetry. The following
discussion of kennings and heiti is a short introduction.
These poetic devices are discussed more thoroughly at the
beginning of the chapter on skaldic poetry.
Kennings, an English word derived from the ON
feminine noun kenning, can be described as circumlocutions. A kenning consists of at least two
elements: a basic word and a determinant, the latter usually in the genitive or possessive case.

The poet takes it for granted that the audience knows that Odin is Thor's father and that Thor's mother is the
goddess Earth (Jr).

208

CHAPTER 14 THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA)

ALLITERATION

EW

For example, battle can be referred to as sngr svera (the song of swords). Sngr is the basic
word and svera (gen pl) is the determinant. Kennings are found in many languages. An English
kenning is ship of the desert, meaning camel. Ship is the base word and of the desert is the
determinant or qualifier in the possessive.
A heiti can be understood as a poetic name or a synonym. For example, instead of naming
Odin as Odin, it is common to disguise him with one of his many other names, such as Yggr.
Heiti are also words used in poetry that are seldom used in common speech. For example,
svani is a poetic word for woman that was rarely used in daily speech. Another example of a
heiti is the noun drasill. It is used for horse and can be translated as steed. Often a heiti is
used within a kenning. In such situations, the meaning becomes more riddle-like, as in leikr
Yggjar (the game of Yggr). Knowing that Yggr is Odin and that Odin is the god of war helps to
decipher this kenning as battle, the game or leikr of the war god.

PR
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As mentioned in the earlier chapter on eddic meter, alliteration is the repetition of initial
sounds in two or more words. This repetition across half lines binds them into cohesive long
lines. Alliteration, along with syllable stress, forms the basic structure of the verse. Alliterating
sounds are often single consonants or single vowels.
For example, the initial sound in the accented syllable can be a - in rymr sat haugi
ursa drttinn. The consonant s- is a special case. Sk- can alliterate only with sk-, as in skegg
nam at hrista skr nam at dja. Similarly st- with st-, as in Standi upp, jtnar ok stri
bekki, and sp- with sp-. Single s- can alliterate both with another single s-, as in opt sitjanda
sgur um fallask, and with other consonant clusters beginning with s-, such as sn- and sl-.
Any vowel can alliterate with any other vowel or with itself across half lines as in n
upphimins followed by ss er stolinn hamri, where u- alliterates with -. Also , the letter j(always pronounced like the y in yes) counts as a vowel. For example, stanza 2 of rymskvia
has the long line: er eigi veit Jarar hvergi. In this line, ja- from jarar in the second half line
alliterates with ei- from eigi in the preceding half line.
In second half lines, the structural alliteration is most frequently carried by the first
prominently accented syllable. This rule means that some alliterating syllables are not
structural but extras to the essential pattern. In ef ek minn hamar mttak hitta, it is minn
and mttak that carry the structural alliteration. The alliteration between hamar and hitta is
secondary, perhaps decorative or merely accidental.

AGAIN SOME CAUTION

Despite these rules, a great deal of liberty prevailed. For example, a significant number of lines
in rymskvia cannot be explained according to these rules. The poetic text appears to reflect
varying metrical practices that have built up over a long tradition of verse-making. To cite one
example among many, in ok selja at vri r silfri, the alliterating consonant can only be
s-. Regularly, therefore, silfri should be the first prominent word in the line; vri (as part of the
verb to be) is a weak candidate for this slot. The line could be amended as follows to gain

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

209

regularity: ok selja at r silfri vri. That would give us the same pattern as we see in the
immediately preceding line pair: mynda ek gefa r tt r gulli vri.

SYLLABLE STRESS: PROMINENT AND SUBORDINATE

PR
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EW

Old Norse poetry was accentual. Each half line in a long line contains two comparatively
prominent syllables accompanied by a less definite number of subordinate syllables. The terms
prominent and subordinate cannot be rigidly quantified in terms of linguistic stress values
(stressed and unstressed). Instead, they are assessed from the verse context. If a syllable is at
the start of a noun or adjective, it can safely be classed as prominent, because the great
majority of Old Icelandic nouns and adjectives had stress on the first syllable. Subsequent
syllables classed as subordinate include inflections, such as case endings, as well as
conjunctions, prepositions, and definite articles. Verbs, adverbs, and pronouns come
somewhere in between, depending on how much meaning they carry. They can be classified
as intermediate, discussed below.
The line brar lni (linen of the bride) from rymskvia consists of two nouns. The two
prominent syllables are br- and ln- and the two subordinates are -ar and -i. Similarly, in
mira gara, which consists of an adjective and a noun, the two prominent syllables are miand gar-, and the two subordinates are -ra and -a. In um kn falla, which consists of a noun
and a verb, the two prominent syllables are kn- and fall-, and the two subordinates are -um
and -a. Here the verb assumes prominence because there is no second noun or adjective to
eclipse it. But in rei var Freyja, where an adjective, a verb, an adverb, and a noun are in
competition for prominence, the verb (var) and the adverb () are relegated to subordinate
status along with the -ja in Freyja. Rei and Frey- are the prominent syllables.

INTERMEDIATE SYLLABLE STRESS. Some syllables are at an intermediate point between prominent
and subordinate, often employing the second part of a compound word. Examples are the
element -ing- (as in geldingr), the superlative suffix -ast- (gfgastr), the adverbial or adjectival
element -lig- (einkanliga), and the -a-/-u- preterite element in weak verbs (smuu). These
syllables are of intermediate stress value. In some cases, they can substitute for a prominent
syllable.
If a syllable with intermediate stress is not substituting for a prominent syllable, it may still
accompany two prominent syllables. Thus bjrg brotnuu shows two prominent syllables
followed by an intermediate stress -u-, which in turn is followed by the subordinate -u. A
similar situation is found in hvtastr sa and Laufeyjar sonr.
Whether a syllable is of prominent or intermediate stress is not always apparent. For
instance, in brann jr loga, the alliteration of b- from the previous half line makes brann (a
verb) the first prominent syllable and jr as the second prominent syllable, leaving log- as an
intermediate stress. Assignations like these are somewhat arbitrary. The poets enjoyed a great
deal of freedom in the exact weighing of stresses within a line. In the line k ins sonr, for
example, if we take our cue from the alliteration, k and - are the prominent stresses, and
sonr is an intermediate stress. On the other hand, if k is considered subordinate because it

210

CHAPTER 14 THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA)

is a verb, then - and son- are the prominent syllables.

14.2 POETIC GRAMMAR


The following is a series of grammatical rules and guidelines useful for the reading of
rymskvia in particular and Old Norse poetry in general. The explanations concentrate on
those instances where the poetic grammar differs from that of Old Norse prose.

EW

DEFINITE ARTICLE. In Old Norse poetry, the definite article (the) is normally omitted. In
translating, one needs to decide when and where to add it. Here are some examples:
ss [not ss-inn] er stolinn hamri: the god has been robbed of his hammer.
fjarhamr duni: the feather-cloak whirred. Not fjarhamr-inn.
allr sa salr: the entire hall of the sir. Not sanna or salr-inn.
Occasionally the article appears to provide emphasis. In such instances, it often is accompanied
by an adjective as in the following example:
at it mikla men Brsinga: that, the great necklace of the Brsings: that great necklace...

PR
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PERIPHRASTIC (CIRCUMLOCUTORY) PRETERITES. In poetry the simple preterite (past tense) is


frequently replaced by a periphrastic or circumlocutory formation. This occurs when verbs such
as nema (take) and ra (manage to) function as auxiliary verbs. In these constructions, the
underlying meaning of these verbs is largely lost. For example, nam hrista (took to shake)
means little more than hristi (shook) and r reifask (resolved to fumble) means little more
than reifaisk (fumbled). The reason for the circumlocution may be partly to maintain the
meter.
EXPLETIVE UM PRECEDING VERBS. In some poems, the expletive um adds the idea of completion to
the verb that it precedes. Thus um saknai, strictly construed, might equate to missed totally.
Similarly Ek hefi ... hamar um flginn might be translated as I have the hammer completely
hidden. With other verbs, the idea of completion is lacking, as in alls fyrst um kva (said first
of all). Perhaps it is best to understand the expletive um as an element that emphasizes the
verb while carrying no real meaning of its own. The chief use of um in poetry may be to achieve
the correct metrical configuration of a line. Systematic use of um, such as in rymskvia, often
correlates with an early date of composition, even though many scholars regard rymskvia
as a late poem.
IDIOMATIC USES OF THE GENITIVE CASE. In poetry, the genitive case is occasionally used to indicate
place where or place toward which. An example of place where is in the following long line:
mtti hann r mira gara (met he Thor midways in the courtyard). An example of
place toward which is gengu eir fagra Freyju tna (go they to fair Freyas dwellings).
WORD ORDER. Poetic word order often conforms to an archaic or purposefully poetic system
with the verb at the start of the sentence. The verb is often followed by particles such as
and then by the subject, object, or other major components of the sentence: Fl Loki (flew

CHAPTER 14 THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA)

PR
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EW

212

Figure 14.2. The Lay of Thrym from the Codex Regius (GKS 2365 4to). This single page contains half
of the poem, begining with rei var Freyja (stanza 13) and ending with Hl Hlrria hugr
brjsti...rym drap hann (stanza 31). Scribes used abbreviations to conserve space on vellum. The
end of line 11 from Bundu (Bdo) and line 12 almost condenses stanza 19 into a single line.
Courtesy of rni Magnsson Institute, Reykjavik.

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

213

14.3 RYMSKVIA (THE LAY OF THRYM)


THE MYTHOLOGICAL BACKGROUND

PR
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EW

rymskvia portrays Thor in his capacity as god of strength and combat, and the kvia shows
Thor relying on his hammer, Mjllnir, to defend the gods against the giants. Thor was a popular
god, a patron of farmers and warriors. His exuberant behavior, as in rymskvia, warmed the
hearts of his devotees, and his antics were often amusing. rymskvia displays rough humor
as Thor disguises himself as an anxious bride preparing to marry a giant. Some scholars believe
the poem is old, composed as far back as the tenth century with the verse reflecting heathen
tradition, including the playful way the poem treats Thor. Others regard the poem as a
Christian mockery of Thor composed in the twelfth or early thirteenth century by a poet who
accumulated allusions to older narratives. The inherent question is whether or not pagans
could laugh at their gods.
In the poem, Thrym, a lord among the giants, steals Mjllnir. The loss of Thors hammer
is a blow to the gods, leaving them unprotected against their foes. The theft becomes even
more serious when Thrym demands Freyja, the goddess of fertility, as ransom for the hammer.
Heimdall, the watchman of the gods, counsels Thor to disguise himself as Freyja in order to
gain entry into Thryms hall. Loki, the mercurial trickster of Norse myth, agrees to accompany
Thor on his journey to Jotunheim. Loki often causes trouble, but in this instance he helps Thor.
The story mentions Freyjas most valued possession, her magic shape-changing feather-shape
(fjarhamr). rymskvia also speaks of Freyjas prized necklace, the Brsingamen,2 a treasure
crafted by four dwarves. Beowulf speaks of a similar mysterious piece of jewelry called in Old
English the Brosinga mene (the necklace of the Brosings).

rymskvia

1. Reir var Ving-rr


er hann vaknai
ok sns hamars
um saknai.
Skegg nam at hrista,
skr nam at dja;
r Jarar burr
um at reifask.

___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________

(1) Ving-rr: brandishing-Thor, describes his use of his hammer. (2-3) sns ... saknai:
missed his hammer. Sakna takes the genitive case. (5) nam ...hrista: his beard took to
shaking. (6) skr ... dja his hair to shaking. (8) um at reifask: Jrs son groped
around (um) [trying to locate his hammer].

Brsingamen (men Brsinga, necklace of the Brisings).

CHAPTER 14 THE LAY OF THRYM (RYMSKVIA)


2. Ok hann at ora
alls fyrst um kva:
Heyru n, Loki,
hvat ek n mli,
er eigi veit
jarar hvergi
n upphimins:
ss er stolinn hamri!

___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________

EW

214

(1-2) hann ... kva: that of words first of all he said, [the first thing he said was]. (3)
heyru: hear you! -u is the pronoun affixed to the verb. (5) eigi veit: no one has
heard, (6-7) jarar ... upphimins: nowhere of earth nor of heaven [anywhere on earth
or in heaven]. (8) ss ... hamri: the god has been robbed of his hammer.

___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________

PR
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3. Gengu eir fagra


Freyju tna,
ok hann at ora
alls fyrst um kva:
Muntu mr, Freyja,
fjarhams lj,
ef ek minn hamar
mttak hitta?

(1-2) fagra Freyju tna: tna (gen pl), to the beautiful dwellings of Freyja. (5) muntu:
will you. -(t)u in muntu is the pronoun affixed to the verb. (6) lj: takes a genitive
object as here (fjarhams). (7) ef: normally if, but here means in case/in the hope
that/so that. (7-8) ek ... mttak: I could, with -k (mtta+k) repeating ek.

4. Freyja kva:
mynda ek gefa r,
tt r gulli vri,
ok selja,
at vri r silfri.

___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
______________________________________

(1) : even so/though. (2) gefa r: give [it] to you. vri: past subjunct, indicating
a supposed condition. (3) selja: hand [it] over.

5. Fl Loki
fjarhamr duni
uns fyr tan kom

___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________

VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

249

APPENDIX 1

OLD NORSE REFERENCE GRAMMAR

EW

NOUNS
STRONG NOUNS
MASCULINE

(WA-STEMS)

(JA-STEMS)

(IA-STEMS)

[-v-]
sngr
sng
sngvi
sngs
sngvar
sngva
sngum
sngva

[-j-]
nir
ni
ni
nis
nijar
nija
nijum
nija

[-i- in sg]
hirir
hiri
hiri
hiris
hirar
hira
hirum
hira

PR
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Sg nom
acc
dat
gen
Pl nom
acc
dat
gen

Type 1 (A-STEMS)
C nom pl -ar C acc pl -a
[-l/-n/-s]
[a/]
hestr
stll
garr
hest
stl
gar
hesti
stli
gari
hests
stls
gars
hestar
stlar
garar
hesta
stla
gara
hestum
stlum
grum
hesta
stla
gara
Type 2 (I-STEMS)
C nom pl -ir C acc pl -i

Sg nom
acc
dat
gen
Pl nom
acc
dat
gen

Sg nom
acc
dat
gen
Pl nom
acc
dat
gen

[a/]
star
sta
sta
staar
stair
stai
stum
staa

[gen -s]
gestr
gest
gest(i)
gests
gestir
gesti
gestum
gesta

[-j-]
bekkr
bekk
bekk
bekkjar
bekkir
bekki
bekkjum
bekkja

Type 4 (ROOT STEMS)


C nom & acc pl -r with i-shift
fingr
ftr
fingr
ft
fingri
fti
fingrs (~ar)
ftar
fingr
ftr
fingr
ftr
fingrum
ftum
fingra
fta

Type 3 (U-STEMS)
C nom pl -ir C acc pl -u
C u-shift nom & acc sg
C i-shift dat sg and nom pl
[a/e/]
[ja/i/j]
litr
kttr
skjldr
lit
ktt
skjld
liti
ketti
skildi
litar
kattar
skjaldar
litir
kettir
skildir
litu
kttu
skjldu
litum
kttum
skjldum
lita
katta
skjalda

vetr
vetr
vetri
vetrar
vetr
vetr
vetrum
vetra

mar
mann
manni
manns
menn
menn
mnnum
manna

[/]
ttr
tt
tti
ttar
ttir
ttu
ttum
tta

nagl
nagl
nagli
nagls
negl
negl
nglum
nagla

VOCABULARY

pref
prep
pres
pres part
pret-pres
pron
refl
rel
sg
str
subj

prefix
preposition
present
present participle
preterite-present (verb)
pronoun
reflexive (verb or pronoun)
relative (pronoun or particle)
singular
strong (adjective or verb)
subject

subjunct subjunctive
superl
superlative (adjective or ad-verb)
trans
transitive (verb)
transl
translation
usu
usually
var
variant
vb
verb
w with
wk weak (adjective or verb)
+ plus
= equals

EW

276

mid be raised, reared


alba <albr, albj, albjoggu, albinn> vb fit out,
furnish or equip fully
albinn ppart of alba (m nom/acc sg), fully equipped;
[e-s] albinn quite ready, willing to do [sth]
albyggr = al + byggr completely settled, completely
inhabited
aldinn adj aged, old; it aldna tr the old tree
aldir acc pl of ld
aldr <-rs, -rar> m age; ungr at aldri young, young in age
aldrbt f fame, honour
aldri (also aldregi) adv never
aldri dat sg of aldr
aldrlag n fate; end of life
aldnari m poet fire, lit life nourisher
Alfr see Allfr
alin f var of ln
alla str m acc pl, f acc sg; wk m acc/dat/gen sg, f acc sg,
n all sg of allr
allan m acc sg of allr
allar f nom/acc pl of allr
alldrr adj very dear
allfast adv very firmly, steadfastly
allfr adj very few
allfrr adj very beautiful
Al(l)fr m All-father, father of all, Odin
allglggsr adj clearly seen, transparent
allgr adj very good
allharr adj very hard, very violent
allhjaldrjgr adj very talkative; [e-m] verr

PR
EV
I

-a (also -at, -t) negative suffix, esp poet, leg not


Aalrr konungr m King thelred II (the unready) of
England
ara m acc pl, f acc sg of annarr
arir m nom pl of annarr
af prep [w dat] from; out of, of, by; off (of), adv off,
away
afar adv very, extremely, exceedingly
afarkaldr adj very cold
afarmenni n outstanding man
afbrag n outstanding example, paragon; afbrag
eira manna allra the most outstanding of all those
men
afbrigi n deviation, transgression, offense
afhs n outhouse; out building; side room
afl n physical strength, might, power; rammr at afli
extremely strong
afl m hearth of a forge, fireplace
afla m acc pl of afl (m)
aflafr adj short of strength; [e-m] verr aflaftt
impers [sb] is short of support (supporters)
afrttr m common pasture (up in the mountains or
wilderness)
afskipta indecl adj cut off from inheritance
aftaka f damage, injury
aka <ekr, k, ku, ekinn> vb drive
akarn <pl akrn> n acorn
akkeri n anchor
akr <-rs, -rar> m field; arable land; hveitiakr wheatfield
ala <elr, l, lu, alinn> vb bring up, raise; be born; alask

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VIKING LANGUAGE 2: THE OLD NORSE READER

andlit n face, countenance


andskoti <-a, -ar> m adversary, opponent; Satan, devil
Andvari m Andvari (personal name), Vigilance, dwarf
whose gold is used to pay Otrs wergild, in
Skldskparml, Reginsml, and Vlsunga saga
andviri n head-wind
angan n delight; angan Friggjar Friggs delight (kenning
for Odin)
angrsamr adj sorrowful, anguished
ann 1/3sg pres of unna
annan m acc sg of annarr
annarr <f nnur, n annat> adj pron one of two,
other, another; ord second; annarr ... annarr conj
one ... the other; annan dag eptir the next day;
annat sinn the second time
annars m/n gen sg of annarr
annask <-a-> mid vb take care of; provide for
annat n nom/acc sg of annarr
annathvrt adv either
apaldr <gen -rs~-s, pl -rar~-ar> m apple-tree
aptaninn acc sg + def of aptann
aptann <dat aptni, gen aptans, pl aptnar> m evening
aptari see eptri
aptastr see epztr
aptr adv back, backwards, behind
arfsal n leg transfer to another party of rights to an
inheritance
argr adj cowardly, effeminate, (passively) homosexual,
unmanly, lewd; wicked
ari m eagle (see also rn)
aringreypr adj round the hearth
armgrjt n poet arms stone, gold or silver arm ring
armr <f rm> adj vile, wretched, wicked; poor,
unfortunate, unhappy
arnar gen sg of rn
aska <acc/dat/gen sg sku> f ash, ashes
askr <-s, -ar> m ash tree; ash spear; small ship; the
great ash tree, Yggdrasill
at prep [w dat] at, in; as to, as, with respect to; on
account of, by reason of; close up to, around, by;
[w inf] to; conj that
at conj that
at inf marker to
-at see -a
atall <f tul, n atalt> adj fierce, aggressive
atbeini n assistance
atburr <-ar, -ir> m occurrence, event, circumstance;

PR
EV
I

EW

allhjaldrjgt impers [sb] talks at very great length


allhrddr adj very much afraid
allir m nom pl of allr
allltill adj very little
allmannskr (also -skr) adj very injurious to men,
very murderous (of battle)
almennilegr (also almennigligr) adj Catholic, general,
common
allmikill adj very great
allnrri (also allnr) adv very near
allgurligr adj very terrible
allr <f ll, n allt> adj pron all, entire, whole; at llu in
all respects, in every way; me allt sitt with all
ones possessions; me llu wholly, completely
allra all gen pl of allr
alls m/n gen sg of allr
alls adv very late
allsterkligr adj very strong-looking
allstrum adv very greatly
allsmiligr adj very honorable
allt adv all, entirely, altogether, completely; allt saman
wholly, entirely, altogether; allt til ess right up to
that point; allt upp undir right up under
allt n nom/acc sg of allr
allvaldr m mighty one; king
allvegligr adj very grand
allvel adv very well
almannavegr m main road, common route, path
normally followed
alsekr m full outlaw
alsnotr adj sagacious, wise, very clever
alsvartr adj very black, pure black
alsvinnr (also alsvir) adj all-wise, or very swift, also
a name of one of the horses that draw the sun
through the sky in Gylfaginning and Grmnisml
(see also rvakr)
alt adv quite
altarisstar <-ar, -ir> m altar-place
alvpni n complete arms; me alvpni, to be fully
armed
alingi n national assembly of Iceland
ala f all the people, the majority of the people, the
public, the common people
ambtt (also ambtt) <pl -ir> f handmaid, maidservant;
bondwoman
anda <-a-> vb breathe; andar ppart dead; andask
mid die, breathe ones last

277

e-n (einhvern) = somebody, acc; e-t (eitthvat) = something, acc; e-m (einhverjum) = (for) somebody,
dat; e-u (einhverju) = (for) something, dat; e-s (einhvers) = (of) somebody or something, gen

VOCABULARY
auskaddr (also -skr) adj easily damaged, fragile
austtr adj easily won, easy to win
augsn f sight
ausnn adj clear, evident
auugr var of auigr
aufi f wealth, possessions
auga <pl augu, gen augna> n eye
augna gen pl of auga
augsn f sight
auka <eykr, jk, jku, aukinn> vb increase, augment; [w
dat] add; exceed, surpass; auka [e-u] vi add [sth];
aukask mid be increased
aukisk 2/3 sg pres subjunct of aukask
aurar pl of eyrir
aurr <-s> m mud
ausa <eyss, js, jsu, ausinn> vb pour, sprinkle; ausa
[e-n]/[e-t] [e-m] sprinkle [sb]/[sth] with [sth]; ausa
bt bail a boat
austan adv from the east
austanverr adj eastern, easterly
Austfiringar m pl men of the East fjords of Iceland
Austmar m person from the east, Norwegian
austr <-rs> m east; adv eastward
austrfr <pl austfarar> f (usu in pl) travels to the east
austrvegr <-s, -ir> m the east, i.e., the Baltic (lit the
eastern way); fara austrveg trading or raiding in
the Baltic or journeying east and south down the
rivers of Russia
austrnn adj coming from the east; eastern
auviri n worthless wretch
ax n ear of corn; hveitiax ear of wheat

PR
EV
I

af essum atburi because of this incident; verr


s atburr it so happened
atdrttr m provisions, supplies
atferli n proceeding
atganga f attack; veita [e-m] atgngu attack [sb]
atgangr m fighting
atgrvi f & n ability, talent, accomplishment; at atgrvi
in ability (esp physical)
athfn f business, work
athfi n conduct, actions
atlaga f attack; laying ships alongside for attack
Atli m Atli (personal name), Attila the Hun
atrr <gen atrrs> m rowing towards, rowing
against, an attack made by a ship with oars
atskn f onslaught, attack
att = at , that you [sg]
au- adv prefix easily
auit ppart of defect vb; be fated, fall to sb; [e-m]
verr [e-s] auit [sth] is fated for [sb]
aukendr adj easy to be recognized, easily
distinguishable
aukenniligr adj easy to recognize
auigr (older auugr) adj rich, wealthy; auigr at f
very wealthy, rich in wealth
aun f wilderness; deserted area; destruction
aur m wealth; hafa au fjr to be very wealthy, have
an abundance of wealth
aur adj empty, deserted, void, without men
Aur f Aud (personal name) Aur in djpga, Aud
the deepminded, of Laxdla saga
ausnn adj clearly seen, evident (au- + snn)
aust n nom/acc sg of ausnn

EW

278

prep [w acc] onto, on, towards (motion); with


respect to; [w dat] on; upon; at; in (position)
<gen r, pl r, dat m, gen > f river
1/3sg pres of eiga
byrg f liability; vera til byrgar be risked
r adv before, already; r en conj before
fenginn (also fengr) ppart (m nom/acc sg) intoxicating
girni f [w gen] greed (for [sth]); ambition
gtastr var of gztr

gtavel adv excellently


gti n excellence, glory, fame; pl glorious deeds
gtliga adv capitally, splendidly
gtr adj excellent, famous
gtust f nom sg, n nom/acc pl of gtastr
gztr superl adj of gtr
heit n vow, invocation (see , heita)
hyggja f care, anxiety
kafi m vehemence, fierceness, eagerness; kafa
vehemently, eagerly, fiercely

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